The Now Playing Massacre

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of Promised Land, The Impossible, Hyde Park on Hudson and Texas Chainsaw 3D


Happy New Year! There’s plenty to look forward to in 2013, but first we must make it through the dreck that is January. The only new major release this week is one that I’m sure will be heading to the worst of 2013 list. Thankfully, three limited releases are expanding to a larger market to mitigate the new releases awfulness. The first of those two is…
A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources. *
The Good – Director Gus Van Sant reunites with his Good Will Hunting star, Matt Damon, to deliver a message film about “fracking”, a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas or other substances for extraction. I don’t know much about the process (having lived in a city all my life) so I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of the process. Back to the topic on hand, from what I’ve read, this movie gives a balanced approach to both sides of the argument, allowing one to make up their mind on the process…
The Bad - …until the final 15 minutes when the movie begins to preach its main message. I’ve read it is done in such a heavy handed manner that it completely ruins the film for many people. I know of a critic who lowered its rating down a full star because of how poorly it handled the ending. There is such a thing called subtly, Hollywood.
The Ugly – I just spoiled the ending for myself (which I won’t divulge here). If what I read is true, then talk about destroying the movie with a completely idiotic twist. My advice, leave the theater 15 minutes before it’s over.
Promised Land is rated R for language.
An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. *
The Good – The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster in the back drop behind this production, which tells the true story of a Spanish family (who for the purposes of this movie, are now English) who were separated as the wave hit Thailand. Praise is being heaped upon its stars, Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, and also to the production on the handling of the material. It’s a look at hope in the darkest of times.
The Bad – The film has stirred a small controversy. It takes a devastating natural disaster that has destroyed the lives of millions, and the film focuses on a western. It is like we Western nations cannot watch a movie unless it features someone that looks like us, and even then getting that aspect wrong (the Spanish family is now English). This is not a new phenomenon. For one example, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen shoehorned Tom Sawyer into the film, giving him a major role, even though he is not in the original graphic novel. Producers constantly short change their audience. What sad is that many times, they’re right to do so.
The Ugly – This is a serious ugly. The tsunami killed over 280,000 people across 14 countries, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.
The Impossible is rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity.
The story of the love affair between FDR and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley, centered around the weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visited upstate New York. *
The Good –Bill Murray has already won a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of FDR. From what I’ve gathered, that’s about all the praise it is getting.
The Bad – The film is currently sitting at 38% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 105 reviews. The Twilight movies have earned a higher percentage than what this film is getting. While Bill Murray escapes relatively unscathed, the same cannot be said about the rest of the production. Some of the criticism calls it uneven, or lacking a real point. As Tom Long from the Detroit News says, “It's never a bad movie, but it can't quite gel into a good one either.”
The Ugly – In case anybody was wondering, this does not take place at Hyde Park in Cincinnati.
Hyde Park on Hudson is rated R for brief sexuality.
A young woman travels to Texas to collect an inheritance; little does she know that an encounter with a chainsaw-wielding killer is part of the reward. *
The Good - The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a great horror film.
The Bad – These sequels and remakes are not. This one was co-written by the guy who wrote and directed Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. If one has blocked that particular film from memory, it’s the Jason film where Jason is not in it except for 5 minutes in the beginning and 5 minutes at the end. This is not a ringing endorsement.
The Ugly – January has begun.
Texas Chainsaw 3D is rated R for strong grisly violence and language throughout.
That will do for this week. Tune in next time when gangsters haunt a house. Until then, remember the thought provoking words of Matt Damon from Team America: World Police… MATT DAMMOONNN!!!

*all summaries taken from

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